The Balkun Brothers are on the road again. The hard-traveling siblings are a part of the power duo tradition of recent years, yet they do their music their own way. With guitar and drums cranked up and smoking, the Balkun Brothers combine hard rock, heavy metal and punk sensibilities with a shot of straight-forward funk thrown in the mix. In other words, they love to mix genres in a unique way to get the audiences dancing and having fun.
The Balkun Brothers are touring extensively this year and that includes a return trip to Boone on June 8.
More information on the Balkun Brothers show can be found on our Nightlife Listings page 9.
The Balkun Brothers consists of Nick Balkun on drums and Steve Balkun on guitars and “thumb-bone” bass. As the Mountain Times talks to the Balkun Brothers, they are in the midst of a 14 hour car trip from Connecticut to Georgia.
“We have both played music since we were teenagers,” said Nick Balkun. “We have been a band for about eight years now, so we have been going at it for a while. Our parents were into music and our Dad played a little bit of guitar and they turned us onto a lot of rock and roll when we were kids. They played a lot of good music in our house and we had an older brother who turned us onto a lot of 1990s alternative rock music and one thing led to another. We started playing at open mic nights and it grew from there.”
Steve was first to play music in public, gathering up some guitar steam with Nick soon to follow on percussion. What is fun to notice is the variety of styles that the duo try to throw into their musical gumbo.
“We describe our music as psychedelic blues rock funk,” said an enthusiastic Steve Balkun. “We do play straight up rock and roll, though. We try to keep it not too complicated, but there are a lot of influences that come in and out of there. Early on, we liked a lot of the early 1990s alternative stuff like the Red Hot Chili Peppers, Rage Against The Machine, Primus and Nirvana and bands like that. As we got a little older, we got into Jimi Hendrix, Led Zeppelin and Black Sabbath and all of the great classic rock out there. But, when we first began to play, we played in a lot of blues clubs so we got heavily into the old school blues artists like Muddy Waters, Howling Wolf and Johnny Winter. But, we also love funk music and anything that grooves and anything that you can dance to. So, we like old school blues and everything from heavy metal to even hip hop. We just listen to all sorts of good music and we try and mix it all together.”
As a drummer, Nick has been lucky enough to take lessons from legendary stick men such as Jaimoe of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame group the Allman Brothers Band and Primus drummer Tim Alexander. As for Steve, his guitar influences are many.
“I’ve been playing a lot of slide guitar lately, so there is no doubt that if you want to play slide guitar, you are going to have to listen to some Duane Allman of the Allman Brothers Band sooner or later,” said Steve Balkun. “But, my big early influences on guitar were John Frusciante of the Red Hot Chili Peppers and Jimi Hendrix, of course. But it was Johnny Winter who really made me want to learn how to play slide guitar. Somebody introduced me to Johnny Winter and his music and that was the launching board of, ‘Oh man, I got to learn this slide guitar stuff.’ We were actually lucky enough to play a show with the Johnny Winter Band right before he passed away. Probably one of the coolest things I ever got to do was to see Johnny Winter up close and personal, playing his slide guitar.”
While the Balkun Brothers have a full tour schedule on tap that includes Europe and a big music festival in Belgium, they are excited about their return to the High Country.
“I must say, the last time we came through Boone, we didn’t know what to expect,” said Steve Balkun. “But the people there were awesome. Boone got down with us, so we are looking forward to coming back.”